Autumn is the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, according to Keats. And this year has been quite special, hasn’t it? Driving through the leafy lanes of Norfolk last week was simply breathtaking, the landscape a riot of golds, reds and browns although by the time you read this they’ll probably be a distant memory or a ball of crap building up on your fishing line as you try to cope with the volumes of debris being flushed through the river systems.
I was in Norfolk for the Angling Writers Association Awards Dinner, which turned out to be something of a mixed blessing for me. I finally learned how tough it must be to follow Leeds United, shortlisted in five categories yet winner of bugger all! So near yet so far…
There’s a special feel about Norfolk, picturesque and gentrified, yet a hundred years behind the times (in a nice way). Shopping becomes an adventure because the streets of places like Holt are not lined with M&S, Superdrug and all the other chain stores. It’s proper old fashioned shopping where fascination overcomes functionality. Oh, and there’s a superb deli on practically every other corner.
The folk are a bit strange, mind!
A few scribes and reprobates gathered in the bar on Friday evening. It’s always nice to bump into Roger Wyndham Barnes and his wife, Dee. Roger’s an occasional blues musician, an artist, not to mention a river warden who guides on the Thames, from his punt. That’s an experience I fully intend to try next summer. He was sporting one of the best ties I’ve ever seen… (left).
John Bailey dropped by following a terrific day on a local stillwater where his guest had landed a 29lb 8oz pike. Nice result. The fresh haddock served up in the White Horse was exceptionally good, too.
I had hoped to take a few photographs on Saturday but the sky was leaden, the rain intermittent and the light was pretty flat. Challenging rather than inspirational conditions which is such a shame as the scope is endless. Sue and I visited Cley beach where we planned to maybe walk down to Blankney Point and see the seals but alas it was far too wet. A few anglers hung around miserably watching their rod tips. They’d had a couple of whiting and a flounder but the summer bass season was over and things won’t peak again until the weather turns cooler. Still, they were hoping for better things on the tide, or after dark.
You know, the fishing off Cley couldn’t be much easier. You’re only casting 40 yards and a regular carp set-up would easily suffice. Just a thought.
Oh, and if you’re ever down there call in the smokery and buy some bacon. I’ve never tasted better in my life.
The good and the great gathered in the bar on Saturday evening for a champagne reception and the meal that followed was to die for. The moules marinieres starter was easily as big as a main course but too good to waste so much as a single shell and the venison casserole – well, I’ll leave that to your imagination. I even managed a pudding!
The awards came and went. John Wilson handed over the trophies and everyone smiled a lot and clapped. Fortunately we only had to endure one Gwyneth Paltrow speech but we’ll be kind and put that down to the drink!
The award I’m guessing you’ll be most interested in was for the Web Site Of The Year.
The nominees were Fish & Fly, Onlinefishing.tv and yours truly. The judge (David Hall) chose Gareth Purnell’s Onlinefishing.tv as the winner. Oh well, maybe next year…
A raffle and auction to raise a few bob for Clive Gammon followed. First ticket out of the hat was mine – a reel. So that went back in to be drawn again. Then I won a Daiwa rig wallet, a seat box arm and then, rather aptly, a set of Toss Pots. As if I ain’t already had my fill of toss pots…!
I offered up a day’s guiding on the Trent as a lot in the auction, something I wouldn’t normally offer, but I was more than chuffed when the winning bidder turned out to be Charles Rangeley-Wilson who you may remember made the Accidental Angler series on BBC2. Check out some of his movies here. You’ll need Quicktime, mind.
Alternatively check out this film he made for WWF:
And just to round things off Charles has a nice blog. I rather think we’ll enjoy our day together.
With the evening’s procedings done and most folk drifting off to bed, a slightly worse for wear Keith Elliott collared me. He was tidying away the the evening’s wreckage, “Oh Bob, sorry, I forgot, you won this…” And handed me a trophy. A runner-up trophy. The only one of the night.
Now I really do feel like I’m a Leeds United fan.
Tom Pickering once said to me – another Donny based bloody Leeds fan 😉 by the way, “I don’t fish for places, I only fish to win. Second is the first loser!”
Tell me about it. I’m not even a good loser!
Christ I AM turning into a Leeds fan.
For anyone who might be remotely interested some of my own entry submissions upon which the judging took place can be seen on my Scribd page. Scribd is a document repository I use to store a few articles in their original newsprint layout but are readable in PDF format. At present you can find 30-odd articles simply by going to here and selecting the ones you wish to read.
Each can be downloaded or printed should you wish. One day I hope to upload all my early articles to the site but I’m sure you’ll understand that this all takes time. Nevertheless, my articles on Scribd have been read by over 4,500 visitors already so do feel free to enjoy what’s on there.
What A Load Of Rubbish!
Heavy rain lifted river levels this week and added a nice touch of colour. The downside was the prevailing air temperature which dipped dramatically as the rain approached suggesting it would be cold rain rather than warm rain and when it comes to catching that can make a big difference. But I decided a trip to the Trent was needed. You don’t catch anything sitting by the fireside, do you?
The river was certainly up as this image (right) shows – at least 6 feet, possibly a bit more. High and coloured. Hmmm…? Perfect or hell? My thermometer gave the water temperature as 46 degrees Fahrenheit. Lower than of late but not a total disaster.
I should have set off earlier but I was working on this blog all morning. By the time I’d cobbled a bit of lunch together, made sandwiches, searched high and low for the right kit, time was getting on. Gets dark pretty early now the clocks have gone back. I arrived at my swim with just enough time to get two rods set up before the light went. Err, what had I forgot? Well, scissors, forceps, hook links and head torch. Not bad really, for me.
A huge eddy down the nearside enabled me to fish the first rod well out, about as far as a loaded 6oz Fisky feeder can be cast. Fortunately the volume of leaves and rubbish coming down was minimal. Guess that’s a headache for another day.
The second rod was positioned slightly shorter. Casting every 15 minutes in the first hour put a little bit of bait out there but I doubt it stayed in the swim. Better to plug the feeder tightly in these conditions and use the smell as an attractor rather than try to create a feeding area.
I was just about to cast the nearside rod back out when the upstream rod kicked over. By the time I’d put it down safely the rod was bucking in the rest and the tripod in danger of collapse as a very angry fish exploded into life. Unfortunately in the few second sit took for me to get to the rod it was game over. The hook link had already parted and I was gutted. That was one powerful fish.
Still, it showed fish were feeding. A little while later the same rod nodded gently. Unsure as to whether it was another load of leaves or fish activity I picked up the rod and held the line between thumb and forefinger. A pluck suggested fish so I hit it. the rod hooped over and a heavy fish began taking line, gently at first and then increasingly violently. And that’s when the reel line parted.
You can imagine I was not best pleased. Two-nil down and going no-where.
Reluctant to tackle up from scratch in the dark I abandoned the second rod and concentrated on just one rod. In fact I took to holding it and touch legering but I gave that up after about ten minutes because the air temperature was dropping like a stone and I could barely feel my fingers.
As desperation and frustration set in the tip bounced back a few inches. A fish? I lifted and felt the line. Yes, definitely a fish. Not a barbel though. It fought like a bream and actually flapped on the surface ten yards out. Under the rod tip it thrashed a bit but having no head torch I couldn’t see what it was. To find a barbel in my net was quite a surprise but I guess the fact that my feeder had slipped off the clip accounted for how it felt. One piddly fish to Bob, two Fisky feeders to the river and two escapees.
With a blank avoided I decided not to push my luck. If I packed slowly so I could listen to football on the radio as I drove home. Seemed like a good plan. Four hours is more than long enough when you’re fishing this badly.
No more bites materialised but when I grabbed my landing net to unscrew the handle it was a stiff as a tennis racquet, the mesh had frozen solid. Ice covered the windscreen and the car’s temperature gauge was reading minus one as I drove down the muddy lane, back to civilisation.
Barbel fishing is going to get a whole lot tougher in the coming weeks and I can’t really afford to waste good chances like tonight…
Lifetime Achievement Award For Zyg
My dear friend Zyg Gregorek, owner of Anglers Paradise, likes an award or two and in all fairness he’s won a fair few in his time, the latest being a lifetime achievement award from the Pakistan Game Fishing Association (PGFA). Zygwas actually born in Karachi and is particularly proud to be honoured by his place of birth where, to use his own words, ‘I started out as a lowly refugee’.
I think it’s safe to say he’s no longer a refugee. A peasant, maybe, but not a refugee!
The plaque reads: The Pakistan Game Fishing Association is very proud to induct Mr. Zyg Gregorek into the PGFA Hall of Fame and present him “The PGFA Lifetime Achievement Award” For services rendered to sport fishing.
Well done old son!
With Christmas looming I always like to give a few pointers regarding gifts you might fancy and I’m staring at a pile of books that I’m struggling to do justice to. As I manage to read each one I’ll do a full review but in the meantime I will at least keep you posted on several new or newish releases.
I’ve already mentioned Dick Walker’s Be My Guest that was edited by Peter Maskell with a foreword by Chris Yates. I’m half way through ti and loving every page. Walkers conversation pieces were always favourites with me as my imagination would run riot. It’s as near as you’ll ever get to fishing with the great man and you can’t say much fairer than that (details here).
Blood Knots (Atlantic Books) has been shortlisted for the BBC Samuel Johnson awards, non-fiction category and was a previous Radio 4 book of the week. The reviews in the broadsheets were astonishing and I can’t wait to get my teeth into it.
Two new books from the Little Egret Press stable are, A Carp To Begin With by John Nixon and Silver Season – Golden Memories by Tony Miles.
Nixon succeeded Barnard Venables as editor of Creel magazine in 1965. One thing it certainly is not is ‘just another carp book’. It might contain the word carp in the title but it covers all branches of the sport and promises to be a rollicking good read. In fact it is sub-titled ‘The adventures of an all-round angler’.
And then we have Tony Miles’ book. Silver Season – Golden Memories is a reprint of his first ever book, originally released in 1987 and long out of print. Not surprising when you realise that only 1,000 copies were ever printed making it high on the desirable list for collectors. It charts Miles’ 25th season of specimen hunting, commencing on 16th June 1984 and ending on 14th March 1985.
Finally, another reminder that L-E-P will celebrate it’s 10th anniversary shortly and to commemorate the occasion a special limited edition book will be published, Willow Pitch, featuring a host of guest chapters by some excellent writers.
Rather than bore you with lots of addresses and prices I’ve added links to the publishers of each of these books. Any angler who turns up his nose at one of these as a present should really be considering buying a set of golf clubs or maybe a subscription to Sky Sports because he ain’t an angler!
Flatulence Gets You Everywhere
With the iconic exception that is Sir Robert ‘Bobby’ Charlton, Donald Trump probably sports the finest comb-over in the world but you still have to take your hat off to him. Few can say they’ve faced a $900 million personal liability plus a $3.5 billion business debt and still come through smiling.
His two books, Think Like A Champion and Think Big: Make It Happen In Business And In Life are well worth a read. Here are a few of his principles:
Never get bored or be boring.
Success is an endurance race: you have to be tougher than the others and go the extra mile.
Deflect criticism by doing a good job.
You need to be bigger than your problems in order to handle what’s being levelled at you.
Hit people hard when they take advantage of you. If people know you fight back, it makes them think twice about messing with you.
Have to say I do like his style! In fact I could have written those phrases myself. That’s how things work around here.
The Devil Makes Work For Idle Hands
Hands up! Who loves Moulin Rouge?
And just for clarity I’m talking about the film starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman rather than a night club where you can ogle scantily dressed Parisians.
Study the film and you’ll realise that much of the dialogue has been very cleverly nicked from popular songs. If you’re not sure what on earth I’m on about quickly scroll to the bottom of the blog and you’ll find an exchange of dialogue between Kidman and McGregor. See if you can recognise the songs from which their lines are lifted – and then try your hand with the whole film…
Using song lyrics out of context is a clever notion when it’s done well but it can be brutally insulting when used poorly. Take the special forces who were reprimanded by a judge this week for using song lyrics in the evidence they provided from the witness stand during a court hearing after a man had been shot dead by Police marksmen.
Towards the end of my stint as editor of Advanced Carp Fishing magazine I grew increasingly frustrated by the interference in editorial direction by folk who never actually fished for carp. Indeed I was particularly p****d off by one guy who didn’t fish at all! My dream was to steer it down the route of becoming a more serious carp magazine, theirs was to go ever more basic in appealing to the beginner. Something had to give and that was always going to be me.
Don’t get me wrong, I had a largely brilliant time as editor and have nothing but respect for those who I worked with, although young Jim did push my patience to the limit! But doing basic didn’t appeal to me. So I submitted my resignation giving the publisher, David Hall, a full six months notice to find a replacement. But what fun I had in those six months! I began writing one article each issue that described my frustrations in a homage to Moulin Rouge. For instance, I did two page spread on butt grips – called – (I swear this is true!) Up Your Butt. I then did a piece on basic knots called, and I’m guessing you’re getting ahead of me now, Get Knotted.
And they loved it. Seriously. I was told this is what they want to see in the magazine. Fortunately the magazine saw sense under Martin Ford, and more recently under the stewardship of Marc Coulson, I believe, although I’ve not seen a copy in a good few years. Perhaps Marc will read this, have a giggle and maybe send me a copy now and then. It was, after all, my baby for six years.
Such subtlety is sadly rare in the world of angling blogs. I’ve noticed that a number of bloggers have begun using songs to insult each other. They rip a track off Youtube with a pertinent title and then stick it in their blog to taunt some other blogger or troll that they don’t happen to like this week. Once might be deemed funny but by the sixth or twentieth time it’s all wearing a bit thin.
There’s a distinct lack of subtlety in these actions and the comments they subsequently attract are all rather incestuous. Same old faces, same old digs, same old negativity and simply going round in circles. If just one of them could do it in an innovative or humorous way it might be worth following the spats but sadly they’re all found wanting. Guys, please, use a bit of imagination, will you? I need entertaining.
Which brings me around to a blog you might find interesting.
The Idlers Quest
The title says it all really. Indeed I wish I’d thought of it as it’s brilliant. But what is an idler? Well the following link might help you. There’s every description of an idler known to man and all seem to describe anglers of my acquaintance at some time or other. Indeed I particularly liked the description from Waiting For Godot – The idler, whose project of self-creation often looks to outsiders like laziness or useless footling.
Yep, that sums up much of my waking hours. Footling.
But that’s not the site I wanted to alert you to. No, give Idlers Questa try. It’s a nice site put together by Jeff Hatt that’s made more stimulating by some of the excellent photography it contains, an example being this swan.
Looking around the site I came across a picture of a zander with arather large hook in its mouth that brought back memories of my own personal zander woes. You see, I undertook my early zander expeditions under the tutelage of an old ‘Fen Tiger’ who showed me the ropes, put me in a good area where catching big zeds was almost predictable. I followed up by reading everything I could find on the subject of this enigmatic and fascinating species. And then I caught a load more.
Unfortunately the bible I read was the one written by Nutty Nev and the late Dr Barrie R. Oh dear. The terminal tackles recommended in that book no longer fitted in with the latest politically correct views of the predator hierarchy as I was soon to discover.
Now if you think the Barbel Police are a pain in the sphincter then get over it. The Predator Pariahs are far worse. They’ll have you hung drawn and quartered on any premis whatsoever. I might as well have promoted using gaffs and knocking every fish on the head. My crime? Using a large single hook. You will not believe the crap I took! It was an ordeal that has left scars to this day. So, Jeff, beware. You might be under their radar for the time being but they’ll be after you when they find out. 😉
On the other hand, I don’t think that Jeff will give a toss. If he’s got any sense, and I suspect he has plenty of it, he’ll just point them in the direction of his recipe for Sautéed Zander Fillets with Wild Parasol Mushrooms!
He might want to remove the bit about killing eels, mind, as to do so is now illegal.
But don’t let that detract you from what’s an interesting site.
The Benefit Of Being Vertically Challenged
There has been some bitter taunting of, how shall I put it delicately, short arses(?), in certain blogs of late. Well, proof that being a short arse has benefits comes this week from the Glen Afric reserve in South Africa.
Hamley the giraffe, star of ITV drama Wild At Heart has died after being struck by lightning while roaming in a field during a thunderstorm. That’ll teach him for being so tall!
Guess I’d better watch out then.
According to a report in the Daily Mail (Nov 10th) a quarter of us are still in contact with our first best friend from Primary School. On the other hand that could have read the other three-quarters have grown up and actually don’t give a sh*t!
But who am I to judge? I can’t even remember who my best friend at primary school was and I can only recall the name of one teacher. He was Harold Arthur Turner, a man who wore a gown and would proudly show everyone that he had his initials on the label inside his trilby hat.
H. A. T.
Probably still does.
But The Alternative Is…
Guess it seems kinda familiar, don’t you think…?
The guys who send me loads of match based information for my local paper column never cease to amaze me. After all, how many match anglers do you know who go and catch a 150lb mekong catfish by design?
Well, Richard Bell sent me a couple of pictures of his son Chris who works in Climax Tackle, Dronfield, this week. He’s just back from a holiday in Thailand where, fishing just one day at the Gillhams resort, Krabi, he landed the huge cat (above) plus Siamese carp (below) weighing fifty and 40lbs.
Somehow I don’t think he used a 14 Superspade and size 20 elastic to land them!
Tony Pulis – What A Selfish Two-Faced Bar Steward!
Can you believe the arrogance of those who are have their snouts in the English Premier League trough (albeit temporary in some cases)? Take Tony Pulis for instance, a man who’s moderate playing career took him to Bristol Rovers (twice), Happy Valley, Newport County, Bournemouth (twice) and Gillingham.
His managerial career hardly parallels that of Jose Mourinho either. It reads Bournemouth (again), Gillingham(again), Bristol City, Portsmouth, Plymouth and Stoke City (twice). His list of managerial ‘honours’, and I use the term loosely, is short. Division Three runner-up in the mid-Nineties with Gillingham and runner-up in the Championship in 2007-8 with Stoke City.
With that in mind do you not find it audacious that he has the nerve to criticise refereeing standards and to suggest the worst three refs in the Premier League each season should be relegated to the Championship?
Look mate, if they’re not good enough to ref Stoke City then why are they good enough to ref Doncaster Rovers? And where does he suggest these crap refs’ replacements are found? That’s right, he wants to take the best three refs from the Championship.
How downright insulting. Like we don’t ever suffer from poor refereeing decisions!
And let’s face it, Stoke may well be playing Championship football themselves in the not too distant future. They ain’t exactly Real Madrid are they? Stoke’s brand of robust football could hardly be described as pretty and they currently stand 4th bottom of the Premiership on level points with Wigan (3rd bottom) and 3 points above rock bottom West Ham. Every single point they have taken this season (as I write on 9th Nov) came in a three week spell from the middle of September to early October. They lost every single league fixture prior to that run and every game since.
If I was Pulis and wanted to see better refereeing next season I’d be very careful what I wished for because those refs he’s demanding should be relegated could very well be officiating his team next season and carrying a big grudge. Not that he’ll still be in charge in those circumstances, though. Gillingham again, Tony?
Stoke beat Birmingham last night thanks to a very late goal. Brilliant!
Watching it back on Sky Sorts News this morning we see (in slow motion) that a Stoke player clearly handles the ball and that the goal should not have counted. Do we hear Pulis complaining about this poor refereeing decision? Or that he’ll voluntarily give up the two points this dubious ‘goal’ gave Stoke? Or that this referee should be banished to the Championship?
Do we hell as like!
Sample Dialogue From Moulin Rouge…
As promised above, how many songs can you spot in this verbatim conversation taken from the film, Moulin Rouge…?
Love is like oxygen.
Love is a many-splendored thing.
Love… lifts us up where we belong.
Don’t start that again.
All you need is love
A girl has to eat
All you need is love
Or she’ll end up on the streets
All you need is love
Love is just a game
I was made for loving you, baby
You were made for loving me
The only way of loving me, baby
Is to pay a lovely fee
Just one night
Give me just one night
There’s no way
‘Cause you can ‘t pay
In the name of love
One night in the name of love
You crazy fool
I won ‘t give in to you
Don ‘t leave me this way
I can ‘t survive
Without your sweet love
Don’t leave me this way
You’d think that people
Would have had enough
Of silly love songs
I look around me and I see it isn ‘t so, Oh, no
Some people want to fill the world
With silly love songs
Well, what’s wrong with that?
I’d like to know
‘Cause here I go again
Love lifts us up where we belong
Get down! Get down!
Where eagles fly
On a mountain high
Love makes us act like we are fools
Throw our lives away
For one happy day
We could be heroes
Just for one day
You, you will be mean
No, I won’t.
…I’ll drink all the time
We should be lovers
We can ‘t do that
We should be lovers
And that’s a fact
…will keep us together
We could steal time
Just for one day
We could be heroes
For ever and ever
We could be heroes
For ever and ever
We can be heroes
Just because I
Will always love you
I can’t help loving…
How wonderful life is
Now you’re in…
You’re going to be bad for business,
I can tell.
How wonderful life is
Now you’re in…
Please don’t bother playing the following clip if you get easily offended.
South Park is what it is, rude, crude and funny as hell, but check out how the Dutch advertised Season 14 of the cartoon series…